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“First Click Free” Will Give Allow Publishers to Re-Enforce Pay Walls

After Rupert Murdoch proposed blocking his paid sites from Google (saying, search engines are “feeding off the hard-earned efforts and investments of others”), the search engine giant has made a surprising move to reach across the table and help publishers like Murdoch. In the past, Google has been criticized for thinking like engineers (for instance, the copyright infringements that made Google Books possible), not business people. They might be…

After Rupert Murdoch proposed blocking his paid sites from Google (saying, search engines are “feeding off the hard-earned efforts and investments of others”), the search engine giant has made a surprising move to reach across the table and help publishers like Murdoch. In the past, Google has been criticized for thinking like engineers (for instance, the copyright infringements that made Google Books possible), not business people. They might be turning over a new leaf, however.

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Google is helping news publications block avid users from accessing large amounts of paid content for free. The web giant wants to help amend the long-standing conflict with subscription-based news publications by launching the First Click Free program.

Previously, avid users of gated communities (e.g. WSJ) could access large amounts of paid content for free using Google News or Search. Not any more, says Google. To news publishers delight, Google is segmenting avid from casual users by prompting online readers to subscribe to paid content after viewing five articles in a 24 hour period.

Reuters explains: “Previously, the user’s first click on any article would be free for an unlimited number of articles, provided the user did not click through any more links from any article.”

While websites have been able to block Google from indexing their website (using Robots Exclusion Protocol, or REP), the tool was not available for Google News. Beyond the First Click Free program, Google has made it easy to block Google News crawlers from accessing your site.

Ultimately, Google is giving more control to webmasters to manage their content. “We have conversations with publishers all the time and some have asked us for more control over their content,” Google spokesmanChris Gaither said to the Huffington Post.

This move by Google is a big win for pay-wall publishers like Rupert Murdoch. First Click Free enables publishers to re-enforce their subscription-based content delivery systems and monetize avid users. While in the past Google News has let avid users fall through…

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